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Sandy Malone Headshot

You Only Get to Plan the Wedding Once Unless You Want to Pay to Plan It Over and Over Again

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You only get to plan your wedding once. Once per wedding that is. You can't hire a wedding planner to plan your wedding 24 months out with the excuse that you want to have everything locked in before you send the invitations out at the one-year mark, and then turn around and fiddle-f*ck with all the little details until the big day, absolutely torturing your wedding planner for the entire last year. It just doesn't work that way.

As an experienced wedding planner I can tell you that most weddings take a grand total of six to eight conference calls to plan, and countless emails. I don't limit my clients to any particular number, but most of my brides and grooms are very busy, successful people who have hired me because they DON'T want to waste time doing all the follow up and confirming the little details. But every year there are a few who make their weddings the BIGGEST thing going on in their lives, and they just can't leave well enough alone.

Remember what they told you in school about standardized tests? Your first instinct is usually correct. If you're unsure, don't mess with it. When it doubt, pick "C." Same rules go for wedding planning. The first thing you really liked is what you should go with it if you can afford it, and when it doubt, ask your wedding planner to tell you what to do. But then you have to actually choose the items, review a bid for it, approve or revise it, sign a contract, pay the deposit and the DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING until about 60 days prior to your wedding when the final numbers are due and everything has to be calculated.

I learned this the hard way, early in wedding planning. And let me assure you that the growth of Pinterest (which I've blogged about before) and Instagram and Tumblr and Facebook and all the other social media out there, has made my job exponentially more difficult because now, instead of brides sending me 10 bouquet and décor pics they like, I get links to Pinterest pages with hundreds of totally unrelated décor items. Anything that catches their fancy. Ha! And you folks wonder why I don't let my wedding clients text me til they're here on the island -- I want you to imagine getting random texts of pictures of dresses and flowers and décor from 40 to 60 active clients whenever they have a random thought. Not only would it make any wedding planner insane, but there's no efficient way for me to file their data and make sure I don't miss something.

So I have a system -- a way I plan weddings with each and every client couple who hires me. First, you hire me, then we choose your venue, then you choose the caterer and I get you a bid (for the reception and other events requiring catering), and then, after all those big numbers are down on paper, we worry about the flowers, décor and goodies for the welcome bags. I don't need to know the initial list on anything -- I want the FINAL FINAL list on everything. If you have questions, that's fine. But don't tell me things in every category have changed every time we talk. That tells me that you need more preparation time to research what you like and what you do not like. I want to make sure your wedding reflects your taste and style. When I get on a pre-scheduled flower planning call with a bride who has sent me no pictures at all, I try to redirect the call and talk about what she needs to look for. Because if I sit and play the "what color do you like?" game with her and imagine what she wants, I'll spend hours completing her bid with my supplier only to receive an email the next day telling me that she's reconsidered and really wants the bouquet featured in the picture attached to the new email. AAHHHHHHHHH!

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There are things a bride and groom can DIY to keep themselves busy and engaged in their wedding if they don't want to sit back and coast. You can make your placecards, your programs, special welcome bag goodies, homemade favors, other artistic details that are only special if the bride and groom created them. I had one hilarious PhD couple who were determined to make 1,000 origami fans for good luck in homage to the bride's ancestry. They turned out absolutely gorgeous -- I still have two hanging in my guest room -- but they never got close to making 1,000 of them. I'm not sure there were more than 100. But they were all over and took a ton of time and energy to make and their guests loved them and the symbolism. Excellent use of wedding planning energy -- thank you Jen and Mike Phelan of Columbus, Ohio.

I've had an inordinately large number of graphic designers as clients (and still currently have a whole bunch) who spent scads of their time creating the most detailed invitations, travel info packets, welcome letters, menus, programs, placecards, AV displays and other things to perk up the décor all over their venue. Let's not forget the personalized tags we're tying onto every bottle of hot sauce in the welcome bags! Another excellent way for brides and grooms to DIY parts of their destination wedding without driving the wedding planner insane. Just saying.

At the end of the day, you've hired a wedding planning consultant who will guide you through the planning process, babysit your vendors and make sure everything goes smoothly on your wedding weekend. But you've only hired her once. That means you have to do your homework, choose the things you like, and show them to her. You can't ask for seven different bids on each item because you can't make up your mind. Sure if your flowers bid is too high, you should revise it. But changing up all the flowers midstream, or changing them three times in a month (happened recently) is not cool. I had a bride change the flavor of her cake three times in one day last month and, while that problem was family-related, it nearly put both my staff and my cake lady in the funny farm.

Planning your wedding two years out is brilliant. It gives you time to think. Time to get your first-choice wedding date. Time to save up. Time to accrue the vacation you'll need. Time for your guests to do their travel planning. But it doesn't give you time to plan your wedding more than once, unless of course you want to play for multiple planning fees.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy